Clear Communications has launched a new cut-rate international toll service to some Asian countries that can makes use of voice over IP.
The new service, Clear 0505, makes use of parent company British Telecom's global network resources to offer a cheaper option for calls to China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines and Macau - traditionally relatively expensive places to call.
Clear says the new service will mean rates as low as 50 cents a minute to China, compared to the current $1.41 a minute. The launch is timed to coincide with the Lunar New Year, a time of high demand. The service is scheduled to run until the end of April.
Clear 0505 will use both traditional networks and voice-over-IP (VOIP) technology to direct calls on the cheapest possible route to their destination. Calls dialled with the prefix 0505 before the normal number will be directed to either a traditional network, voice-over-ATM or VOIP services.
Ordinary voice calls are transmitted via ATM to a switch in Los Angeles, which then directs the call on the cheapest available route to its eventual destination, where it is converted back into an ordinary voice call. The cheapest available route might mean sending the call using VOIP, ATM or traditional circuits.
Clear warns that 0505 callers "could experience some problems with voice quality because of the different networks and developing technology being used."